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Google Blocks Install of Chrome Extensions Outside the Web Store for Windows Users

Google looks to protect Windows Chrome users from malicious add-on installs


Rogue add-ons are often distributed outside the web store

We knew it was coming, and today it is so: Chrome users on Windows can no longer install extensions or apps from outside the Chrome Web Store.

Not that most would want to.

Google say the restriction, which is only limited to Windows users on the stable and beta channels, will protect users from malicious and unwanted extension installs.

While it’s not a hugely widespread occurrence there are websites that prompt users visiting from Chrome to install an extension (with widely permissive access) to unlock features or functionality.  Other common hijacks, particularly those infamous for changing the default search engine, happen through automatic opt-ins bundled into desktop application installers.

But as of today that’s all change, as Google explains :

“From now on…extensions can be installed only if they’re hosted on the Chrome Web Store. Extensions that were previously installed may be automatically disabled and cannot be re-enabled or re-installed until they’re hosted in the Chrome Web Store.”

As mentioned in our opening salvo, this change has been in the offing for some time meaning that today’s enforcement should not come as a surprise to most developers. Local extension installs are permitted, so development workflows are not affected. Add-on makers are encourage to submit their extensions to the Chrome Web Store. 

For most, this change will have few downsides and is unlikely to impinge on the user experience to any great degree. If anything, the impact of the restrictions is likely to be beneficial as Google will disable many extensions installed in this underhanded manner, meaning many will once again have a browser that works the way it was intended to.

Restrictions on the type of extensions Google will accept into the store are due to take effect next month.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    I never even knew you could install the extensions from a different source

  • Nice step to prevent malware/spam extensions. But what if some software which automatically installs an extension on Chrome, will it be allowed or not? Ex. Freemake Video Downloader

    • Thomas Berends

      This will not be allowed.

  • FirstLine

    So what happens to “All Manga Reader” and “Chrome YouTube Downloader” ? Will I have to DL Mozilla Firefox to keep using both?

    • They simply refuse to install

      • FirstLine

        That’s what I do right now.

      • captain irrelevant

        Pretty sure this change means you can’t install it regardless. What you just said is what’s doable right now.

      • Google disables video downloaders saying they’ve been installed without my permission even though I dropped them on the extensions page.

        • duffyhatesyou

          Google hates people who use Google services without their permission. They censor the web store of clean apps (while malicious ones still get by).

          • Guest

            Extensions violating TOS = censorship, okay.

          • wirelesscord

            Extensions violating TOS = censorship, okay.

          • duffyhatesyou

            Extensions violating Google Corporation’s TOS.
            Why does Google feel the need to regulate their so-called open web browser like this?

          • wirelesscord

            Since when the Webstore has been part of the open source Chromium project?

          • duffyhatesyou

            Irrelevant. Google has closed off anything BUT the Google Store to general consumers, in order to guarantee themselves a monopoly. That’s downright evil.

          • Non-Specific Action Figure

            Since it became the only way to install new apps, period.

            Google has monopolized the entire extension-system.

        • wirelesscord

          That just happened to me (Youtube Center) when Chrome updated itself. But simply reinstalling the extension with the drag & drop way still works.

      • wirelesscord

        What about in future “Developer mode” > “load unpacked extension” way?

      • Dorian Gray

        As of this comment, installing an extension manually by downloading the .crx, opening the extensions page and dropping it in no longer works.

        • wirelesscord

          I did that just yesterday (and the dev mode unpacking way still works too). Does this depend on the extension then? Latest stable (June 10)

          Drag & drop way is useless now though because the disabling happens probably everytime Chrome updates itself.

  • sonicyoof

    This is the only malware-like problem I’ve seen on Linux, shady Chrome apps. So this is a good move.

    • “Google say the restriction, which is only limited to Windows users on the stable and beta channels, will protect users from malicious and unwanted extension installs.”

  • alvaro guzman

    Good. Many PC that i have fixed áre full of malware like extensions. The common Windows user is not aware of what is installed on his her device.

    • Non-Specific Action Figure

      Whereas the user that actually pays attention to the extensions they install is screwed over.

      I mean, Google could give us the option with a liability-release to inform us of the risks….

      …Nope! They monopolized all app-distribution in their “open”-system.

  • Roland

    I hated that when I was using Windows. Especially when Software bundled the Serchgol New Tab Page as well as the IE Browser Toolbar, because it would take ages to work out what had caused my homepage from Google.

  • And that will break the integration with one of our autocorrect tool where I work.

    Time to push the application developer to put their plugin on the Web Store.

    • duffyhatesyou

      It’s so nice to know Google’s pushing around their users.

  • wirelesscord

    I’m a bit confused: it already isn’t possible to install from another web source!? What is exactcly changing, or is this about removing the (two) workarounds (below in the comments)? But then again it mentions local installs will be still supported…

    • Demurgos

      The “save .crx and drag&drop” was added just to be sure that users have time to understand that something’s going to be installed, to see it & not just to click a button and pass away. This was bullshit for devs. Now it’s way more complicated since any workaround has been blocked (except some tricky ones ). The local mode described by the article is a dev mode where the extension is loaded live, can be accidentally deleted if sources removed and triggers lots of annoying warnings. This is super bullshit.

      • wirelesscord

        Thanks for that link, installing via dev mode is enough for me for now. The warning is a little annoyance, but I rarely restart the browser anyway. (Not developer use)

  • Angryfan

    thank you so much google chrome, you’ve ruined Google Chrome experience for us. I who has a very strong malware/virus protection security on my computer and has knowledge on how to protect myself has to have my favorite “safe” extensions disabled just so some newbie computer users who don’t know anything about protecting their computers can avoid viruses.

    WOW GOOGLE lol keep this up, i’m gonna have to use Mozilla soon enough.

    • Jop

      Install Chrome Canary.

  • Aaron Carter

    Actual human beings are suffering because of the mongoloids below. Thank you Google.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    I use Webroot SecureAnywhere. It installs from outside, and is not listed in their Store, but is not blocked by this new ‘safety precaution’.

    In other words, Chrome is probably only blocking anything which allows you to download YouTube Videos, etc..

    • Dorian Gray

      This is 100% not true. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Non-Specific Action Figure

      MEGA’s sync-extension does not work either. It is grayed-out from the extensions-page. I can’t do anything with it.

  • Katie Komar

    Well this sucks I had a downloader I got from real player and now I can’t use it!! (realplayer has been reliable and I used it for years with no problems)

  • eb

    Heh, heh, heh. SUCKAS

  • pal

    Bye bye chrome–uninstalling it now.

  • Dorian Gray

    Lazarus extension no longer works, which means I’m no longer interested in this browser.

  • Guest

    Firefox is the new chrome now

  • Guest

    Firefox is the new chrome now to me

  • Razz

    Chrome, ye shall be missed…(UNINSTALL)
    back to Firesux

    • Jop

      Install Chrome Canary

      • Razz

        I shall look into this!

  • OldRedNed

    For several years I have used ‘Chrome YouTube Downloader’ with no problems whatsoever. Now Nanny Google has forbidden me to use this downloader of my choice. Their arrogance is breathtaking and as for their ‘explanation’ – crap. Does Nanny Google suggest alternatives to ‘Chrome YouTube Downloader’ – not that I can see. I have just tried to use something from Chrome Web Store called ’10Youtube’ – I think it is a joke.

    Can any one suggest a decent YouTube Downloader that Google will graciously give me permission to use – or is it back to FireFox?

  • Non-Specific Action Figure

    Well, there goes 5 of my apps.

    Can we at least have the option? I can understand making it default to approved-apps only for the inexperienced-users, but for those that know what they’re doing (or make their own extensions), this is a serious hassle.

    Being told that I’m locked out of an extension that I’ve been using perfectly-fine without problems for months feels like a slap in the face.

    • proud to be an infidel

      good for you….

  • proud to be an infidel

    NO! this is the USA, soon you will have no freedom…get used to it,, goodbye chrome…

    • Amy Johnson

      Goodbye Chrome.. Hello Again Firefox! Please accept my humblest apologies and a donation for ever leaving your land of unrigged, open-sourced freedom.

  • Reality 60.

    I also was doing fine, downloading music and other YouTube series videos to my computer.
    I am 60 yrs old and I would at least like to have my favorites on my computer in case I no longer able to pay for my internet service. Chrome just blocked my downloader app without notice. What’s next? With the net neutrality BS, I had to drop and close my Netflix account because since Nov. 2013 my internet provider started to warn me, that my data usage has passed 100% and they slowed down my data flow for the balance of my monthly cycle! I have Norton 360 that protects my computer against what chrome thinks will damage my computer, hmmm? Anyway good folks, I now pay .99 cents to Vimeo to be able to download my fovorite YouTube series!
    Thanks for letting this old-man share my thoughts with you all. I love all the comments.

  • a guy google doesnt care about

    Why can’t I turn back on the extension if I approve it? Goodbye Chrome, hello firefox. Unfortunately.

  • Iyanu